Forgetting November


I'm late posting this because November has 30 days.

That's not true. I sat down on November 30th to post this and somehow . . . just did other things instead.

The internet is a wonderful, awful thing.

Anyway, I started the month by cramming in the Halloween movie I'd most wanted to see (it didn't come off that Halloweeny) and then watched very few other movies besides.

Perhaps it is late because I have simply forgotten movies exist?


library dvd
The Phantom Carriage (1921)

Not what I expected. When what I know is that the laster person to die on New Year's Eve becomes the grim reaper for the next calendar year, I expect some more cosmology. What it like to put on those robes? What's it like to reap souls? There's a bit of that upfront in some of the movie's coolest scenes, but most of the film is a very 1920s morality tale that plays out more like A Christmas Carol than Bogus Journey.

So that was kind of a bummer, but it was a good movie. What seems to be the Criterion version is currently on YouTube as public domain. Don't know if that's legit or not. The dvd also has another soundtrack that's waaay creepier that might have given the film a more horror-movie vibe. As it is, I would not call this horror at all. Even though there are some great visuals of the reaper carting off the dead.

It is certainly a better movie than The Shining though, which quotes it.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Movies like Lady and the Tramp are remarkable to me, with their quick pacing and barely bothering to spend time with characters, yet by the end we are fully invested and moved. I suspect that animation is just better for this sort of thing. The universailty of cartoon drawings let us in.

The Siamese cats truly have aged terribly. Egad. Not as bad as Peter Pan's Indians, but they ain't great. Shame they got the best song in the movie. Or, rather, the catchiest. "Bella Notte" would be the best song.

And, I remember last watching it circa . . . 2010? and discovering (not for the for the first time, nor for the last) that Peggy Lee's voice is, ah, very sultry.

In all, it's a great example of what Disney once did in very little space (76 minutes). It's a lost skill.

or something like that
on a hotel tv
Evan Almighty (2007)

Here we are in a hotel looking for a movie that ends at nine and so we watch the last half of Evan Almighty. I've never been that interested even though it was a nobody called Steve Carroll who blew me away when I saw Bruce Almighty all those years ago.

Anyway, the last half was a fun watch for the family! No idea if the whole thing holds together. I can see it going either way.

Incidentally, great Noah story in the latest issue of Irreantum.


Ballad of a Mountain Man: The Story of Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1989)

It's remarkable how one person can make a huge difference then be forgotten by practically everyone but specialists. Lunsford brought Appalachian-style music to the masses, started the clogging craze, made things like O Brother possible, and yet according to IMDb, he's only ever been on ten soundtracks.

And this the guy who wrote the song Mountain Dew is named after!

I suspect, based on what I saw, that his legacy was more important to him than it being attached to him. So he certainly succeeded. But maybe take an hour and learn a tad more.

library dvd
Addams Family Values (1993)

I didn't see this when it came out. I'm not sure why not. Perhaps the reviews in my local paper were negative. Perhaps I was feeling burnts from other terrible followups to beloved movies (the awfulness of Sister Act 2 still stings, and Home Alone 2 was not much better) (and yes, Sister Act 2 came out twenty-one days before Addams Family Values, but when a movie is that painful and appalling, I see no reasons it cannot send ripples backwards through time) (I suppose it's more likely I missed AFV in theaters and SA2 just assured I'd never borrow it on VHS).

Anyway, it keeps showing up on Great Sequels! lists and Great Thanksgiving Movies! lists and so it felt like the time had come to give it a shot. Especially having recently watched its precursor (and Wednesday) with the kids.

So we did. And while I'm not sure it quite holds up to #1 (or quite counts as a Thanksgiving movie), it was fun.

My biggest problem was Joan Cusack. Not because she didn't do a great job, but because I don't want a sexy Joan Cusack going all femme fatale on my screen. To me, and I'm sorry but I can't really get over this, it's like she's my friend or big sister. And since I didn't want to look at her breasts, the role did not quite work as intended.

It's wild how many people on the cusp of stardom are in this film in bit roles (Tony Shalhoub [sailor at bar], David Hyde Pierce [bemasked obstetrician], Nathan Lane [weary police clerk]) or as a child (David Krumholtz).

What surprised me most as I was watching it was how all the various versions of the Addams clan are started to meld togeher in my mind. One party scene I had a flashback to, was that from the first movie in this series? the first in the recent animated series of films? But somehow they all fit together nicely in my brain.

And that's what family means.

Cinema Hilltop 16
Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Usually, Lady Steed and I have roughly the same reactions to movies. And when we disagree, it's usually because I liked it more. Not today.

Lady Steed was riveted throughout. The movie did not feel long at all. It was consistently engaging emotionally. And, ultimately, a powerful experience.

I thought the movie was frequently powerful and when engaging emotionally very much so. But I also thought it was too damn long and all that extra space prevented the powerful moments from really coming together. Also (spoiler alert) while I love watching recreations of oldtime radio, the final radio sequence was a strange choice. And having Scorses himself give the final lines was . . . peculiar. Not sure what to make of that.

Other than that one choice, no qualms about the cast. Uniform excellence. Though I'd like to make a special shoutout to Everett Waller who had some of the longer lines that could easily been rote and soulless, but they were not. not at all.

The film was beautiful and good. Only the question of how good is still under debate.

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